Why Are the Writers Strike?
The argument is about streaming and how it affects other things. The guild says that even though series costs have grown, the amount of money that goes to writers has always gone down.
The guild says that the use of smaller staffs for shorter stints by streaming services, which are called “mini rooms” in the business, has made it harder to make a steady income. And in the last ten years, the number of writers who work for group minimums has gone from about a third to about half.
In a March report, the group said, “On TV staffs, more writers are working at minimum regardless of experience, often for fewer weeks,”
The study says that the lack of a regular seasonal schedule in streaming has made pay even lower. And the annual pay raises that are part of the present contract have not kept up with inflation.
The latest on the WGA Contract:
— Writers Guild of America, East (@WGAEast) May 2, 2023
Variety, a trade publication for the TV business, said that the minimum weekly pay for a staff writer on a TV show in the 2019-2020 season was $4,546. They work on a network show for an average of 29 weeks and make $131,834 a year.
On a streaming show, they work for an average of 20 weeks and make $90,920. The number is $6,967 per week for a writer-producer. The guild says that there are no basic protections for the writers of comedy variety shows that can be streamed.
According to the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which speaks for Hollywood’s studios, distributors, and production firms, the writers’ demands would necessitate keeping them on staff and paying them even when there is no work for them.
“If writing needs to be done, writers are hired, but these proposals require the employment of writers whether they’re needed for the creative process or not,” the group said in a document that explained its views.
And according to the AMPTP, their proposals included the first-ever minimums for writers of streaming comedic variety shows. In addition, the group claimed that writers differ greatly from “gig economy” employees in terms of their access to healthcare, child care, and pension benefits.
In just-released earnings, #Lionsgate bragged to Wall Street that revenue soared 17% to $1.1 Billion. “Another strong quarter” the CEO crowed. The Top 5 Execs nabbed a combined $24M in 2022 after $42M in 2021. But somehow they can’t afford to pay writers fairly.
In just-released earnings, #Lionsgate bragged to Wall Street that revenue soared 17% to $1.1 Billion. “Another strong quarter” the CEO crowed.
The Top 5 Execs nabbed a combined $24M in 2022 after $42M in 2021.
— WGA Perspective (@WGAPerspective) May 26, 2023
The Impact of the Writers’ Strike on Scripted Series and Movies
How the strike affects written shows could take a lot longer to become clear. Changes to the schedule of when movies come out could take even longer. Shows like “Yellowjackets” on Showtime, where writers had already started working on upcoming seasons, have stopped the process and will have to rush after the strike to stay on schedule.
Without the need for last-minute rewrites, production can go forward as planned with finished scripts. Most of Hollywood’s other unions, like those for actors and directors, whose contracts with AMPTP are about to end, can’t join the current strike because their contracts say they have to keep working. However, both members and leaders of these unions have shown support for the WGA.
Productions have known for a long time that the date was coming, so they tried to finish before it did. FilmLA, which gives out site permits in the Los Angeles area, says that no dramas or comedies have asked for any this week. Depending on how they watch TV and movies, many people may not notice the effects of a strike until long after it’s over, if they do at all.
The choices on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video won’t change next week, but because this would be the first writers’ strike of the streaming era, there is no model for how they will look in a few months. During the last strike, many shows, like “30 Rock,” “CSI,” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” cut their seasons.
What’s Next for the Writers?
Screenwriters will lose a lot of money when they can’t work at all, but many say it’s worth it to fight the daily loss of money. Members of the guild can’t make new deals, pitches, or stories because of guild strike rules. They are allowed to get paid for work that they have already done.
People in the industry who are called “hyphenates,” such as showrunners who are also head writers, producers, and performers, and people like Quinta Brunson of “Abbot Elementary” who do all of these things, are allowed to do parts of their jobs that don’t involve writing as long as they stick together with their writing staffs. (At Monday’s Met Gala, Bruson said, “I’m a member of the WGA and support WGA and … We, us, us getting what we need. … No one wants a strike, but I hope that we’re able to rectify this, whatever that means”)
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are writers on strike 2023?
On April 18, 2023, 97.85% of members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) voted to go on strike if they couldn’t reach an agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents the major film and TV companies in Hollywood, by May 1.
What is the current writers strike about?
Writers are pushing for better residual pay, which is a type of royalty for reruns and other showings. They say this is an important way for middle-class writers, whose lives have been turned upside down by streaming, to make money. They are also trying to stop what they call “abuses” of “minirooms.”
How long will writers strike last?
Experts say that the strike could easily go on for more than three months and drag on until the end of August. “The studios and streamers on one side and the roughly 10,000 to 12,000 members of the Writers Guild on the other are just so set in their positions,” Alexander said.